Panama: Fall Empidonax Migration 2012(1)

Sept. 19---They're here...!
  I finally got good views of an Empidonax Flycatcher today. This is my third sighting of one this season.  I hope they come in the numbers I saw last fall.
  I was able to take a few mediocre photos and a crappy video.  It made no call and other than call it a Traill's, I am unable to ID. Alder is supposed to have a shorter bill than Willow and this one seems longish to me; but Alder is supposed to have a more distinct eye ring and this bird shows more than some I have seen. There seems to be a curved culmen. I've never noticed that before and I didn't notice it in the field today--only when I put up the photos. Trick of the photo?  The lores seem to meld together over the bill; never seen that before either. Most of the time I have only noticed a light 'comma' on the lores.  I have cropped and sharpened the photo that shows these points best:
  When I got back to Peregrine and downloaded my photos, I was struck by how worn the wing feathers were; ragged at the edges.  I felt empathy for the poor little thing.  By the look on the range maps, if it is an Alder, it might have come all the way from Alaska! It's so small and that is such a feat. There have been times out on the ocean when weather and big seas and lack of sleep and sea sickness has weakened me, and there was nothing to do but continue on with all I had. Yet my longest crossing is nothing compared to what this little flycatcher has accomplished.  It truly is amazing. 
  As long as I am drawing comparisons, I should mention that many times I have questioned my intelligence and sanity for going around the world in a small boat and I have to wonder why in the world birds migrate.  There is plenty of food here year round for most of the migrating species.  Why wouldn't they just stay in Central and South America?  I realize the boreal forests in Canada are spectacular, but are they that good?  It just seems so crazy.
I'm really happy to see these birds arrive and I look forward to finding and watching them over the next few months. I'm not sure why I've developed this almost obsessive attraction to the empids, but I'm captivated.
Bad video, but mercifully short.  I post it mainly to show the actions of the bird. You probably have to put it on full screen.  I was standing on one of the cement blocks that are used around the hard-stand area to avoid mud after rains.  At one point in the video, the block rocked--a bit shaky.

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